X-Message-Number: 14262
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 07:26:58 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: why memories are important to identity

Hi everyone!

My reason for believing that memories are important is simple: if you
lose all your memories, but somehow retain your awareness (something
that in the end we MAY discover is impossible) then what remains may
be a living human being, but to say that it is YOU extends that notion
for more than it can be extended. 

After all, self-awareness without memories, in a human body, could
basically be ANYONE. As a form of survival, this does not differ
from simply producing a new human being. It does not even matter whether
or not this human being inhabits a body which looks like yours: what
keeps someone else from being revived in that body?

The question becomes more pertinent if we suppose a PARTIAL survival of
memories. Then you may well remember that you are Dave Pizer, but forget
lots of your history. The difference is that you still have memories, 
can learn others, and basically know who you were. I won't discuss here
just which memories can survive to make you know you were Dave Pizer,
mainly because they may differ with person. 

I will also bring up here some points about the organization of our
brains. It may well be that our sense of identity involves lower 
centers (ie. not the cortex) in an essential way, and that noncortical
area plays a central role. Yet it's likely also to have to react with
our cortex to produce a sense of identity (in terms relating to this
argument, it must react with our memories, stored in our cortex or 
our cerebellum). That noncortical part of our sense of identity may
even be removable: if you lose it on your suspension, then replacing
it may be easy. Replacing your memories would be much harder.

		Best and long long life for all,

			Thomas Donaldson

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